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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Onslaught

When one thinks of thrash metal, the two countries that come to mine are the United States and Germany. However thrash had it's scenes all over the world. From Canada to Australia to Brazil and beyond, there was no country that thrash didn't touch and of course, Great Britain was no exception. Although the British thrash scene is largely overlooked, those who bother to explore it will find some of the best thrash of it's time and most were in agreement, that the best of these was Onslaught. Onslaught was founded as a punk band in the vein of Discharge and The Exploited by Nige Rockett in Bristol, England in 1983, being quickly joined by drummer Steve Grice. The band released a demo later that year before releasing an EP entitled, "What Lies Ahead" in the same year, which featured new members Jase Pope and Paul Hill.

Hill was soon to be replaced by Jase Stallard and the group took on a more metal orientated approach to songwriting and signed to Children Of The Revolution Records, under whom they released their debut album, "Power From Hell" in 1985. The album contained lyrics which were satanic in nature and also featured a song entitled, "Death Metal," leading to some metal fans crediting the band with coining the term, along with Possessed. That same year, vocalist Paul Mahoney moved to the position of second guitarist, when the band hired vocalist Sy Keeler. This lineup travelled to London to record their second album, "The Force" in 1986, which is now regarded as one of the genre's true classic albums, containing such thrash anthems as "Let There Be Death" and "Flame Of The Antichrist." After the release of "The Force," the band signed to major label London Records for their next album, though things did not go as well as they had hoped. Under pressure from the label, the band let Keeler go and hired Grim Reaper vocalist Steve Grimmett, in an attempt to help the band reach a more mainstream fan base. The subsequent album, "In Search Of Sanity" was released in 1989 but proved to be a disappointment for hardcore fans, oweing to the change in vocals and more polished production. Grimmett left the band soon after and the band was dropped from their label, before deciding to call it a day in 1991.

Key members Steve Grice and Nige Rockett remained good friends throughout the inactivity of Onslaught, and upon finding out that a record label had been selling Onslaught albums without permission, the two decided to reform the band. They contacted Sy Keeler who soon agreed to rejoin the band, along with bassist Jim Hinder, who had performed with the group during the "In Search Of Sanity" era. The band performed some low key gigs, along with supporting slots to the likes of Venom, before releasing a new studio album entitled, "Killing Peace" in 2007. The album was regarded as a natural follow up to "The Force" and was extremely well received from fans and critics alike. Since the release of the album, Onslaught have been touring relentlessly to take their rightful place as one thrash metal's true greats, performing all over the world and releasing a live album entitled, "Live Damnation" in the process. The band are currently working on their fifth studio album, which is expected to be released later this year. More...

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Sunday Old School: Les Légions Noires

The LLN. The Les Légions Noires. The Black Legions. By whatever name, they were an infamous group of underground black metal artists/bands that emerged from France in the early 90s in response to the newly born Norwegian second wave of black metal (bands like Mayhem, Burzum and Emperor). With a penchant for prolific demo output, next to no full lengths, rough and raw material, barely audible/listenable recordings, obscure naming conventions, true satanic piety and rabid anti-commercialism - the LLN made a name for themselves by intensifying almost every black metal stereotype known to the metal community. More...

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Sunday Old School: Rose Tattoo

When thinking about Australia's contribution to hard rock and heavy metal, 99% of people will instantly think of AC/DC, which is fair enough, but many of these same people tend to overlook another of the country's best exports, Rose Tattoo. Rose Tattoo were undeniably one of the hardest rocking bands to ever plug into an amp and they proved it by not just writing some fantastic songs, but by taking the stage with a ferocious attitude that bands like Guns 'N Roses would later be known for. The band was formed in 1976 in the city of Sydney by guitarist Peter Wells, who was formerly a member of the heavy metal band Buffalo. The original lineup also featured vocalist Tony Lake, guitarist Leigh Johnston, drummer Michael Vandersluys and bass player Ian Rilen, who taught himself the instrument while he was in prison. Johnston was soon to be replaced by Mick Cocks however, and shortly afterwards, more lineup changes occured, most notably the new addition of notorious frontman Gary "Angry" Anderson. The band released a single on Albert Productions named "Bad Boy For Love" after being recommended to the label by AC/DC. This would mark the only recording with Gilen, who left soon afterwards to form the punk rock band X.

Rose Tattoo followed the single by releasing a self-titled album in 1978, which entered the Australian Top 40 and began to become involved in social issues when they released a single supporting the legalisation of marijuana entitled, "Legalise Realise." A short while later, the band began to achieve success in foreign markets when their debut album, (re-released under the name Rock And Roll Outlaw) entered the British charts at number 60, the German charts at number five and the French charts at number two. They released a second album in 1981 named, "Assault And Battery" which entered the Australian Top 30 and topped the British heavy metal charts, just like the band's previous release. After gaining a following in Europe and the United Kingdom, the band recorded a third album, "Scarred For Life" and set their sights on the United States, supporting the likes of ZZ Top and Aerosmith. While the tours didn't prove to be the groundbreaking introduction they needed, they left a resounding impression on some audiences, particularly in Los Angeles, with many bands from the area later citing Rose Tattoo as an influence. Several lineup changes occured soon after they got back from the States and Anderson recorded what was intended to be a solo album named, "Beats From A Single Drum," however due to contractual issues, it was released under the Rose Tattoo moniker. The band split soon after and Anderson earned himself a hit single with the song "Suddenly" after it was used in the popular soap opera, "Neighbours."

A brief reunion happened in 1993 when Guns 'N Roses asked them to support the group on their Australian tour. Although the reformation didn't last as long as fans hoped, a second reunion occured in 1998, eventually resulting with the album, "Pain" in 2002, their first studio album in sixteen years, along with a live album entitled, "25 To Life." Although the band would suffer a set back when guitarist Peter Wells passed away in 2006, they soldiered on and released a new album, "Blood Brothers" in 2007. Sadly the band has been mainly inactive in recent months, owing to the death of guitarist Mick Cocks in December 2009. Though not as largely known by fans of heavy metal and hard rock audiences of today as they arguably should be, Rose Tattoo have undoubtedly carved a place in music history as one of the most aggressive, though simultaniously fun bands to ever emerge from Australia. More...

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Sunday Old School: Saxon

Some bands play heavy metal. Other bands embody it. And nobody embodies heavy metal quite like Saxon have been doing for over thirty years. Whilst the band appear to be somewhat overlooked these days, to a die hard fan of metal, there's no denying that Saxon are one of the greatest bands to ever emerge from the United Kingdom. The group was founded in the Yorkshire town of Barnsley back in 1976 under the name Son Of A Bitch but wisely decided to change the name to Saxon, which represented a long-time lyrical theme of the band, namely it's fascination with British history. The band quickly built up a following, becoming one of the leading bands in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and gained support slots with the likes of Motorhead before releasing their self-titled debut in 1979. While the first album didn't fare too well commercially or critically, the 1980 release "Wheels Of Steel" earned the band two hit singles with the album's title track and the song, "747 (Strangers In The Night)" along with the future fan favourite, "Motorcycle Man." The album itself proved successful too as it hit the British album charts at number five. The band released a third album, "Strong Arm Of The Law" only four months after "Wheels Of Steel," which also did well critically and sales wise and featured some of the band's best known work including, "20,000 Feet," "Dallas 1PM" and the title track. After this, the band completed the third album in what is regarded as their "classic album trilogy" and released "Denim And Leather" in 1981. The album also entered the British album charts, this time at number nine and once again featured future live staples such as "Princess Of The Night," "And The Bands Played On" and the anthemic title track.

Saxon then released "Power & The Glory," which, while not being their most acclaimed album in their catalogue, is their best selling. As a result of the record's success, the band were able to embark on a headlining run of European arenas, taking a little known German band by the name of Accept along with them. Saxon continued their streak of commercial success when they released "Crusader" in 1984 and took two struggling bands on the road with them named Krokus and Motley Crue, allowing these bands to reach wider audiences. The band were to experience a backlash of sorts however, when they released "Innocence Is No Excuse" in 1985, with many European fans accusing the band of "selling out" to try and reach a more commerical audience in America, though in recent years it has earned a place in the hearts of fans. The group continued to do well throughout the rest of the decade, but found major success in America somewhat hard to find, resulting in the band being released from EMI Records after the "Destiny" album was released in 1989. They then signed to Virgin Records and released a string of albums which went largely unnoticed by the media.

A career resurgence of sorts began to happen in the late '90s however, with the band being invited to headline such festivals as Bloodstock and Wacken Open Air. Commercial success reared it's head once again in 2007 when they took part in Harvey Goldsmith's "Get Your Act Together," where Goldsmith attempted to restore the band to the popularity it had experienced in the 1980s. He did so by bringing in two new producers to oversee the band's new single, "If I Was You," from their album, "The Inner Sanctum." The single entered the top ten in countries all around the globe. Their most recent album, "Into The Labyrinth" has seen them continue to gain critical acclaim and tour with the likes of Anvil and Doro supporting them. Although "Into The Labyrinth" was only released last year, there is reportedly already plans to record a new album, along with a new documentary movie on the way entitled, "Heavy Metal Thunder." Whether you're a fan or not, no-one can dispute that Saxon have earned their place in heavy metal history by being one of the hardest working and most dedicated bands in the business, with a loyalty to their genre that is unquestionable. More...

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Sunday Old School: Tommy Vance

After the death of heavy metal icon Ronnie James Dio was confirmed seven days ago, it made me think about the true pioneers of the genre, which Ronnie certainly was, and how we never expect them to leave us. In the United Kingdom, one of the men who helped define heavy metal and hard rock as we know it wasn't a musician, but a radio DJ and occassional television presenter by the name of Tommy Vance. Whilst it may seem strange to dedicate this weekly segment to a DJ and not a band, ask any of the older metal fans in Britain about Tommy Vance, and they'll tell you he was just as essential to the genre as Ozzy, Lemmy or Rob Halford.

Perhaps a little background information would be useful however. Tommy Vance was actually born with the name Richard Anthony Crispian Francis Prew Hope-Weston in Oxfordshire, England in 1940. He began his radio career in the United States, using the alias "Rick West" but took the "Tommy Vance" moniker from a DJ who failed to show up to a show on Seattle's KOL station. He was forced to return to the United Kingdom in 1965 as a result of immigration difficulties. When he did return, he worked with the infamous pirate radio station, Radio Caroline before eventually being signed to BBC Radio 1, where he worked with equally revered DJ John Peel on the Top Gear programme, which specialised in "progressive" music.

His crucial role in British heavy metal would be kick started in 1978 however, when he began presenting the "Friday Rock Show" (which is currently hosted by Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson.) He presented this show for fifteen years and gave headbanging Brits a place where they could not only hear their favourite bands, but also discover many new ones that wouldn't have been known otherwise. Vance was a particular champion of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and would often feature interviews and performances from bands within the movement, as well as talking with the rock and metal stars of the day including Black Sabbath and AC/DC. He was also a regular fixture at the legendary Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington, where he would DJ the event inbetween bands, as well as introduce them. However, after writing a critical report of the 1986 edition of the event, he was dropped from the next festival and banned from even attending.

In his later years, Vance appeared on several television shows including Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Dumber And Dumber, Brass Eye and The Eleven O' Clock Show (which featured a young Ricky Gervais) where he allegedly encouraged people to call TV's Handy Andy and "tell him he's a twat." He hosted a revived Friday Rock Show on VH1 which featured interviews and music videos from the biggest and best names in metal and rock and made one last big contribution to the British rock scene by co-founding the popular internet radio station TotalRock. He sadly passed away from a stroke on March 6th, 2005 and his memory and work was celebrated with a 15 hour tribute show on TotalRock as well as a tribute concert at the famous Royal Albert Hall in London, which featured the recently reunited Judas Priest, along with the Scorpions and Deep Purpler singer Ian Gillan, along with special appearances by Bruce Dickinson and The Who frontman Roger Daltrey. More...

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Sunday Old School: Anthrax

Given the news this week that Joey Belladonna would be returning to Anthrax, sparking off another round in the never ending war of words between Joey Belladonna fans and John Bush fans, it seemed like a good time to take a look at New Yorks most popular thrash metal band. Anthrax was formed by guitarists Scott Ian and Danny Lilker, taking the name from a biology textbook. A few members came and went before they settled on the lineup of Charlie Benante on drums, Neil Turbin on vocals and guitarist Dan Spitz, prompting Lilker to switch to bass. They recorded their debut album, "Fistful Of Metal" in 1983 and released it in January 1984, achieving some international success when the album reached the top ten in Britain. However, the band fired Lilker soon after the release, replacing him with Benantes nephew, Frank Bello. Neil Turbin would also be released from the group after a while, which led to guitarist Scott Ian handling vocal duties for a short time, though these performances mostly consisted of covers of hardcore songs.

The band would eventually find a new permanent singer in 1985 and released an EP named "Armed And Dangerous" soon after. Later that year, the band released "Spreading The Disease," followed by "Among The Living" in 1987. Both of which garnered much critical acclaim and saw a dramatic change in personality for the band, who had decided to ditch the traditional leather and studs look of such bands as Judas Priest and wear clothing they felt more comfortable such as shorts. The band also introduced a more pop culture influence into their lyrics, writing songs about the comic book Judge Dredd ("I Am The Law"), comic actor John Belushi ("Efilnikufesin") and other movies and books. They followed with another highly praised album called "State Of Euphoria" in 1988, which featured a cover of the song "Antisocial" by French band Trust, earning them a minor hit single in the United Kingdom. They also gained some more mainstream notoriety when they appeared on the hit comedy show, "Married... With Children." They released their final album with Belladonna, "Persistence Of Time" in 1990, which was also well received, before collaborating with legendary rap group Public Enemy in 1991 for the "Bring The Noise" single and tour, which also featured Primus and Ice-T. More...

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Sunday Old School: Crowbar

Many cities across the world have become known for producing many great metal bands. Birmingham, New York, San Francisco are just a few, but one that frequently gets forgotten is New Orleans, Louisiana. New Orleans produced arguably the greatest bands in the sludge metal genre, and perhaps the greatest of these bands was Crowbar. Crowbar was formed from the ashes of hardcore outfit The Slugs, with the original lineup consisting of bass player Todd Strange, drummer Craig Nunenmacher, guitarist Kevin Nooger and frontman Kirk Windstein. They released their debut album, "Obediance Thru Suffering" in 1991 which was well received but failed to sell well. However, the band was helped tremedously by Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo when he produced their next album and gave the band a support slot on one of Pantera's national tours, as well as wearing a Crowbar shirt in the video for "I'm Broken."

Crowbar drummer Craig Nunenmacher decided to leave the band in 1996 and was replaced by Jimmy Bower of Eyehategod. This lineup released the albums "Broken Glass" and "Odd Fellows Rest" in 1996 and 1998 respectively, before the band briefly recruited drummer Sid Montz for the 2000 album, "Equilibrium." Montz was replaced soon after with original drummer Nunenmacher, though once again his tenure would be brief, as he left to join Black Label Society soon after. The band then went on a hiatus for a while as Windstein concentrated on working with Down, the band which also featured Pantera members Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown, along with Corrosion Of Conformity leader Pepper Keenan and long-time friend Jimmy Bower, before returning with a completely new lineup in 2004, which included Rex Brown and guitarist Steve Gibb, former guitarist of Black Label Society and son of Bee Gee, Barry Gibb. This incarnation of the band released the album, "Lifesblood For The Downtrodden" in 2005, though new members were recruited soon after in the form of bassist Patrick Bruders (of Goatwhore fame) and drummer Tommy Buckley (best known for his work in Soilent Green.)

The band has continued to tour since 2005 with the promise of a new album in the near future. Crowbar's continuity has been disrupted several times in recent years, owing largely to frontman Kirk Windstein being involved in Down, as well as Kingdom Of Sorrow, the band he founded with Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta in 2005. The band replaced guitarist Steve Gibb last year with Kingdom Of Sorrow guitarist Matthew Brunson and have since been touring steadily, most recently as special guests to Sepultura in Europe. Their influence on modern metal can be heard today, with many bands citing them as an influence and they remain one of the greatest acts to ever emerge from the legendary city of New Orleans... along with Fats Domino of course. More...

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Sunday Old School: Iron Maiden

Where would heavy metal be in a world without Iron Maiden? Love them or loathe them, there's no denying that Iron Maiden is one of the most important bands in the world today; not just in metal, but all of music. They have influenced countless bands and sold millions around the globe and remain as relevant today as they were 30 ago, if not moreso. The band was formed in Leyton, East London by bass player Steve Harris in 1975 and struggled for a good five years before releasing their debut album. They began their success by securing a residency at The Cart and Horses pub where they would attract fans of hard rock that were bored of the popular prog rock bands at the time, but weren't attracted to punk. The band joined forces with a young singer named Paul Di'anno in 1978 and from there began their rise to the top of the emerging New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. They recorded a demo on New Years Eve of that year named, "The Soundhouse Tapes" which sold out within a few weeks and by December the next year, they had signed a major deal with EMI Records. They released their self-titled debut in April 1980 which went straight in the British album charts at number 4 and capitalised on this success by touring with big name hard rock and heavy metal bands such as KISS and Judas Priest (who had just released their classic album, "British Steel" at the time.) Maiden quickly followed this with a second studio album named, "Killers" which featured former Urchin guitarist Adrian Smith, who had replaced guitarist Dennis Stratton. Although "Killers" did not do as well as the previous album in terms of chart success, it did well enough for the band to be booked in the United States, where they were just as well received as they were in England.

The band made another change in the lineup after finishing their tour of America, this time it would be Paul Di'anno who was to find himself sacked. The group hired Samson vocalist Bruce Dickinson after he met with their manager Rod Smallwood at the Reading Festival and the band recorded the album, "The Number Of The Beast" which is considered today as one of the greatest heavy metal albums ever made and propelled Iron Maiden from being a succesful band to rock superstars, topping the charts in the United Kingdom. From there, the band recorded a string of albums which continued to sell well and garner critical acclaim, including "Piece Of Mind" and "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son." Another lineup change was to occur in 1989 when guitarist Adrian Smith quit the band was replaced by former Gillan axe man Janick Gers. This lineup of the band recorded the album, "No Prayer For The Dying" which not particularly well received by fans, though it did earn the band their first chart topping single in Britain with "Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter." They followed by releasing "Fear Of The Dark" in 1992 which was better received by fans, but not by much. Following this release and two live albums, singer Bruce Dickinson quit to pursue his solo career and was replaced by Wolfsbane vocalist Blaze Bayley. The "Blaze era" of the band produced several outstanding songs but was not met with great enthusiasm from fans of Dickinson's voice, though both albums recorded with Bayley entered album charts around the world.

Blaze Bayley left the band by mutual consent in 1999 and Maiden shocked fans by announcing that not only was guitarist Adrian Smith returning to the band, but so was singer Bruce Dickinson. After a "greatest hits" tour, the band recorded a brand new album named, "Brave New World" which was well received by fans and entered the top ten in the United Kingdom. The band continued to tour relentlessly being supported by such bands as Halford and Queensryche along the way, before releasing another studio album in 2003 entitled, "Dance Of Death" and hitting the road hard once again. Both of these tours supporting these albums received the live album treatment, in the form of 2002's "Rock In Rio" album and 2005's "Death On The Road" set. After a break from touring the band released another album in 2006 entitled, "A Matter Of Life And Death." Although it proved well receieved, the band angered several fans by performing the entire album on the subsequent tour, with only five classic songs in the set list. After touring in support of the album, the band embarked on the "Somewhere Back In Time" tour which saw them focusing on material from their mid 80s catalogue. After a well earned break, the band entered the studios last to record their fiteenth studio album, which recently revealed to be named, "The Final Frontier," fueling rumours that this is to be their last album. Whether it is or not, the legacy that Iron Maiden carved out for themselves is one that rock superstardom is made of and they will forever be considered one of the greatest bands in the history of heavy metal. More...

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Sunday Old School: Suffocation

The New York death metal scene may not be quite as revered as the New York hardcore scene, but no-one can deny that it has produced some great results. One of the most acclaimed bands in death metal emerged from this scene, namely the grindcore-influenced Suffocation. Suffocation was formed in 1989 by vocalist Frank Mullen, guitarists Guy Marchais and Todd German, bassist Josh Barohn and a friend of his, though lineup would prove to be brief, as Mullen formed a new version of the band shortly afterwards with guitarists Doug Cerrito and Terrance Hobbs, along with drummer Mike Smith, all previously in the band Mortuary. The band took influences from the likes of British grindcore pioneers Napalm Death and Brazilian thrashers Sepultura and released their first EP, "Human Waste," in 1991 through Relapse Records, with a full length debut, "Effigy Of The Forgotten," following later that year via Roadrunner Records. The album was well received and the band went back to the studio to record their second album soon after. "Breeding The Spawn" was released in 1993 through Roadrunner, which was not quite as praised as the bands previous effort.

Drummer Mike Smith left the band after this release and was replaced by Doug Bohn and the band recorded their third studio album, "Pierced From Within," which has since become an extremely influential album in the field of extreme metal. After an EP in 1998 named "Despise The Sun," the band decided to call it a day. The band was not to remain inactive for long however, as Mullen decided to reform the band in 2003, being joined by original guitarist Guy Marchais, as well as guitarist Terrance Hobbs and drummer Mike Smith, in addition to new bass player Derek Boyer, who was formerly a member of Decrepit Birth. They quickly released a new album, entitled "Souls To Deny," the next year and set about making their mark in the world of metal once again by touring relentlessly, before releasing another well received album in 2006, which was self-titled. The band gained exposure to a completely different kind of audience in 2007, when they appeared in a commercial for The History Channel's documentary on The Dark Ages before splitting from Relapse Records to sign with German label Nuclear Blast for their next album, "Blood Oath," which was released in 2009 and earned the band their first entry into the Billboard album charts, when it reached number 135.

Suffocation is currently touring in support of "Blood Oath" and plans to release a documentary film entitled "Legacy Of Violence" this year, along with many other projects including a comic book and a video game. They are regarded as one of the most influential bands in the history of death metal and many young bands today can be seen wearing Suffocation merchandise and praising the individual members as well as the band itself, with drummer Mike Smith being credited as one of the best drummers in the genre and AllMusic.com naming Frank Mullen as one of the best vocalists in death metal. More...

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Sunday Old School: Remembering Peter Steele

Given the tragic news posted earlier this week, it seemed not just fitting, but mandatory that this week we dedicate Sunday Old School to the memory of Petrus T. Ratajczyk, better known as Peter Steele, who passed away last Wednesday. Steele was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and was the founder of the infamous crossover thrash band Carnivore, before going to achieve massive success with Type O Negative. Before that however, he was in a band named Fallout which also featured Agnostic Front drummer Louie Beateaux and future Type O Negative keyboardist Josh Silver. Fallout only lasted three years and in such time only released one record, a single named "Rock Hard" which was limited to 500 copies.

Beateaux would go with Steele after the demise of Fallout to form the band Carnivore in 1982, with a self-titled debut album being released in January 1986. The album was exceptionally well received and praised for its unrelenting speed and tongue in cheek humour, along with spawning such great songs as "World Wars III & IV," "Male Supremacy" and the title track. A second album named "Retaliation" would be released the following year through Roadrunner Records, which was once again critically praised. "Retaliation" would prove to be the bands last album however, as they split up soon after.

From here, Steele formed the band he is perhaps best known for, Type O Negative, which although labelled as a gothic metal outfit, mixed in many aspects of doom and thrash metal. The group released their first album, "Slow, Deep and Hard" in 1991, using alot of material which was originally meant for Carnivore. The album received mixed reviews, though music historian Piero Scaruffi would go on to call it "the greatest heavy metal album of all time." Type O Negative followed this release with "The Origin Of The Feces" which was designed to sound like a live album, dubbing in audience noises, banter and even stopping a song because the "venue" had a bomb threat called in. The album was less well received than "Slow, Deep and Hard" but the band would achieve massive success with their next album, "Bloody Kisses," which eventually reached Platinum status, becoming the first album from Roadrunner Records to do so. The album featured the popular singles "Black No. 1" and "Christian Woman" along with the controversial "Kill All The White People" and "We Hate Everyone." The band released two more acclaimed albums in the form of "October Rust" in 1996 and "World Coming Down" in 1999 before releasing a compilation album entitled, "The Least Worst Of." The group released their last album for Roadrunner, "Life Is Killing Me" which featured much shorter songs than previous albums, with the exception of the 7 and a half minute, "How Could She?" which is essentially a list of female television characters. More...

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Sunday Old School: Motorhead

The term "legend" is thrown around all too often these days, almost to the point where being an older band instantly gives you the title, but how many bands can not only honestly claim the title of "legend," but also "icons?" Only a handful. And within this handful, we find one of the best and loudest bands to ever tread the Earth - the one and only Motorhead. Motorhead is as important to heavy metal as Miles Davis is to Jazz. Every fan of metal, punk, hardcore and rock will be able to tell you who Motorhead is, and if you find one who can't, beat them with the heaviest object you can find, just so they get an idea for how heavy Motorhead is.

The band was formed by Ian Fraser Kilmister (aka Lemmy) in London in 1975, after he was released from the band Hawkwind for (of all reasons) excessive drug use. The band was originally going to be called "Bastard" until it was pointed out that shows like Top Of The Pops might have a tiny problem with such a tag, so the moniker was switched to Motorhead instead. The name came from the last song Lemmy wrote for Hawkwind and at the time was American slang for someone who often took Speed. Lemmy assembled guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox and after only ten shows, they secured a slot opening for Blue Oyster Cult at the famous Hammersmith Odeon. They then recorded an album for United Artists but it wasn't to be released until the band gained popularity a few years later, as the label were unhappy with the material. Shortly after this, Wallis and Fox were no longer members of the band and "Fast" Eddie Clarke and Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor came in as replacements, forming one of the heaviest trios in the history of music. This lineup recorded a string of albums which are now regarded as classics by rock and metal fans, such as "Overkill," "Bomber" and of course, "Ace Of Spades," as well as topping the British albums chart with their live album, "No Sleep 'til Hammersmith." Following their next album, "Iron Fist" Eddie Clarke would leave the band, being replaced by former Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson. This lineup of the group would only record one album, 1983's "Another Perfect Day" which earned the band some backlash from fans at the time, though it has gained a cult following over the years.Subsequently, both Robertson and Taylor left the band, leaving Lemmy to form an entirely new lineup, which he did with former Saxon drummer Pete Gill, ex-Persian Risk guitar player Phil Campbell and unknown guitarist Michael "Wurzel" Burston.

This lineup would only last for one compilation record and one studio album before Taylor returned to the band. Motorhead would release the albums, "1916" and "March Or Die" before Taylor was once again no longer a member, this time being replaced by King Diamond drummer Mikkey Dee. This lineup would release the album "Bastards" in 1993 and the band released a single the next year entitled, "Born To Raise Hell" which featured Ugly Kid Joe frontman Whitfield Crane and rap legend Ice-T, for the movie "Airheads." This lineup would again be a short lived one, as Wurzel was to leave the band following the "Sacrifice" album in 1995. Since then, Motorhead has continued as a three-piece and have released a further seven albums, with another one planned for this year. Many have also claimed that the group was rejuvinated by the beginning of the 21st century, as since 2004's "Inferno" they have received constant acclaim for their newer material, with plenty of fans and critics alike agreeing the band have been producing their best albums since the early 1980's. As was said at the beginning of this article, Motorhead aren't just legends, nor will people stop at calling them icons. They are are gods. They changed the face of rock music, proved it was alright for fans of metal and punk to like the same band, influenced thrash metal to no end and are still going strong thirty five years later, continually setting the standards for all bands out there. Long may they continue to show everyone how rock and roll is done! More...

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Sunday Old School: Sepultura

Thrash metal is best known for making metal stars out of bands from America and Germany, but every now and then, it would present a hero from somewhere no-one expected. In this case, it made metal legends out of a Brazilian band named Sepultura. The group was formed in the city of Belo Horizonte by brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, along with bass player Paulo Xisto and vocalist Wagner Lamounier. Lamounier left the band the next year and Max took over the spot behind the microphone, so the band recruited guitarist Jairo Guedes to be the band's lead player. This lineup would record the EP "Bestial Devastation" and the full length album "Morbid Visions" before Guedes left, to be replaced by Max Cavalera's former guitar technician Andreas Kisser. This is perhaps the best known lineup of the band, recording five studio albums together and breaking into the metal mainstream, becoming one of the genres leading young bands alongside Pantera.

The group began to receive commercial success in 1993 with the release of their album, "Chaos A.D." which features the singles, "Refuse/Resist," "Slave New World" and "Territory," three of the band's most well known songs. The group gained further success three years later when they released "Roots," an ambitious album that saw them embrace their Brazilian heritage, even recording a song with the Xavantes tribe. However the good times were not to last as Max Cavalera left the band on bad terms when the other members informed him they did not wish to renew the contract of their manager, who was also Max's wife. The band replaced their old singer with American, Derrick Green, who had previously released an album with the band Outface. This lineup released the record "Against" in 1998 but the album did not do as well as they had hoped. More...

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Sunday Old School: Two

A few months ago we took a look at Judas Priest, one of the most important and many would say greatest bands in the history of heavy metal. However in the early 1990s, the groups lead vocalist Rob Halford decided to quit the band and pursue other musical interests. The most controversial of these, was Two (sometimes written as 2wo), an industrial metal band he formed alongside guitarist John Lowery.

The band was formed by Halford and Lowery in 1997 after Halford decided not to continue his previous band, Fight. They quickly found themselves signed to Nothing Records, which was founded by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and released their Reznor produced debut album, "Voyeurs" the following year. It was around this time that Halford first openly stated that he was homosexual and the band worked with gay porn director Chi Chi Laurue for their music video "I Am A Pig." The band received a harsh backlash from long time fans of Rob Halford, who wanted to hear more of a traditional heavy metal style and concert attendence was generally poor, coupled with the problem of audience members shouting for the band to perform Judas Priest songs. A music video and single release was planned for the song "Stutter Kiss" as it had featured on the soundtracks for a few movies, however this idea was scrapped due to the albums poor commercial performance.

Although there was talk of the band recording a second studio album for a different label, it was not meant to be. Halford disbanded Two in 1998 and formed a new band, simply named Halford which was more in the vein of the traditional heavy metal sound for which he was known. John Lowery went on to become the guitarist for Marilyn Manson and later Rob Zombie. Since the bands demise, the "Voyeurs" albums has gained a cult following among fans of industrial metal and Rob Halford, with Halford saying he would like to release the demos the band did for the album as they were apparantly heavier and more metal sounding, claiming Trent Reznor had too much control over the production for "Voyeurs." Reznor himself has disowned the album and when questioned about it, has been very critical of the record. More...

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Sunday Old School: Body Count

The relationship between rap music and the world of hard rock and heavy metal has long been an interesting one. In many ways, both genres are very different and many members of each community look at the other with contempt. Whether it it be that metal fans think that rap is all about "bitches and money" or that rap fans think metal fans look stupid and every band is just screaming. However there are many others in both genres who at least respect the other, at times colloborating such as Public Enemy and Anthrax. One such member of the rap world who had a respect, admiration and love for hard rock and metal music was the legendary Ice-T. Ice-T decided to form his own rock band, Body Count with musicians he knew from school to help expand his musical palette in 1990 and debuted the band at the 1991 Lollapalooza tour, which many stated was the highlight of the tour. From there the band appeared on Ice-T's acclaimed album, "O.G. Original Gangster" and opened for Guns N' Roses before releasing their self-titled debut album in March 1992.

The band was highly controversial, not least due to the song, "Cop Killer," a song inspired by the Talking Heads track "Psycho Killer" and intended to criticise corrupt police officers in the United States. The band was boycotted by police groups as well as parents and the religious right and were even denounced by then U.S. President George H. W. Bush. "Cop Killer" wasn't the only song on the album to receive a negative reaction either. "KKK Bitch"and "Evil Dick" also gained the band notoriety for what people saw as obscene lyrics, to the point where noted actor Charlton Heston entered a Time Warner shareholders meeting and read the lyrics out, confident with a sense of unwarranted self-importance that by doing this the band would be fired from the label. Ice-T himself decided to remove the song "Cop Killer" from the album because he felt that the band should be more known for their music than controversy. The band does, however, continue to perform the song live.

Since then the band has released three more albums, 1994's "Born Dead," 1997's "Violent Demise: The Last Days" and 2006's "Murder 4 Hire." Sadly, of the original lineup, only Ice-T and lead guitarist Ernie C are still alive, with drummer Beastmaster V passing away in 1996 after a battle with leukemia, bass player Mooseman being killed in a shooting while working for Iggy Pop in 2001 and guitarist D-Roc succumbing to lymphoma in 2004. The band has been inactive for a while but recently made an apperance at the Vans Warped Tour anniversary party in Los Angeles. No word has been given on whether they will record a new album again at some point, but Body Count still holds a large cult following across the globe, particularly in Europe, and the very thought of a new tour or album is something that generates a lot of excitement... and probably some controversy for good measure. More...

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Sunday Old School: Tank

The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was responsible for some of the most popular metal bands the world has ever known. Making household names out of Iron Maiden and Def Leppard and granting Saxon the position of legends. However, for many bands in the movement, success was to be very short lived, if even found at all. Many N.W.O.B.H.M. bands were able to enter the British album charts with their debut, only to lose their popularity and fame shortly afterwards. Tank is one of these bands.

The group was formed in 1980 by bass player and vocalist Algy Ward, who had just left British punk rock legends The Damned. Tank gained favourable comparisons to Motorhead for their high energy heavy metal played with a punk edge and their entertaining lyrics. They released their first album, "Filth Hounds Of Hades" in 1982, which entered the British album charts at number 33 and is now regarded as one of the best albums from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement. This would be the only taste of chart success Tank received unfortunately, as their next albums sold less than the band's debut. They decided to call it a day in 1989.

However, much like a number of other bands from the scene, Tank reunited in the late 1990s and performed a number of concerts in Japan and Europe before releasing a comeback album in 2002 entitled, "Still At War." The group has struggled since then however, with an album named "Sturmpanzer" sitting on the shelf since 2006. Founder Algy Ward is also no longer a member of the band and vocal duties are now handled by former Rainbow and Praying Mantis frontman Doogie White. The band is expected to finally release a new studio album this year through Soundhouse Records. More...

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Sunday Old School: Hirax

Thrash metal has grown to become one of the most popular sub-genres in the history of metal. It has it's stars of course such as Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer and it has the band's with more of a large cult following such as Exodus and Testament. But like any other movement, it also has it's forgotten heroes. When researching the original thrash metal scenes, one will inevitably stumble upon a band named Hirax, one of the most dedicated and unique bands in the field.

Like many other thrash metal bands in the 1980s, they were signed to Metal Blade Records, through which they released two studio albums. "Raging Violence" in 1985 and "Hate, Fear And Power" the following year. The second album was a rushed release thanks to pressure from the label and clocked in at just over sixteen minutes, featuring only eight songs. Frontman Katon De Pena left the band not long after, due to internal tensions and what he saw as bad label management, forming the short-lived band Phantasm with original Metallica bassist Ron McGovney and Dark Angel drummer Gene Hoglan. Hirax themselves replaced Katon with former Exodus frontman Paul Baloff, though they decided to call it a day not long after.

The band would reunite with the original lineup in 2000 and released the "El Diablo Negro" EP the same year, however the reunion was not to last as by the next year, Katon De Pena was the only original member left in the band. Since then he has kept Hirax going strong, releasing several EPs and two studio albums, "New Age Of Terror" (2004) and "El Rostro de la Muerte" (2009), as well as building up a strong fan base in South America. More...

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Sunday Old School: Bathory

In previous Sunday Old School articles, we have looked at three of the bands that really helped to inspire and form the genre of black metal, in the forms of Venom, Celtic Frost and Mercyful Fate. However there is another band just as important in the formation of black metal that we are yet to examine. Namely, Sweden's Bathory. The band was formed in the city of Stockholm in 1983 by Tomas Forsberg, better known to his fans as Quorthon, and two friends. They went through a number of name changes before settling on Bathory and released their self-titled debut album the following year. This album, along with "The Return" and "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark" are now regarded as huge influences on the infamous Norwegian black metal scene's music in the 1990s.

Bathory not only helped to pioneer black metal, but also viking metal too, when they began incorporating viking themes on their next album, "Blood Fire Death." The group went further with this styling on their record, "Hammerheart," now regarded as a landmark in the field of viking metal. They would continue the "Hammerheart" style on their next two albums, "Twilight Of The Gods" and "Blood On Ice" before changing their sound once again, this time sounding more like thrash metal. This move was criticized by many of the band's fans and they returned to the viking approach on their last albums. Sadly, the band would not be able to continue, as in June of 2004, Quorthon (now the band's sole original member) was found dead in his home from an apparant heart failure. The legacy of Bathory has since been remembered with a box set released in 2006 and several tribute albums. More...

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Sunday Old School: Remembering Bon Scott

Close your eyes and think of AC/DC. If you're like most people, the first thing that enters your mind is the image of Angus Young in his schoolboy suit doing his Chuck Berry on speed duckwalk across the stage. The second thing for most is the image of singer Brian Johnson, cap pulled down nearly to his eyes, letting loose with a powerdrill wail.

For 30 years, that's been the case — but it wasn't always so. There was a time when AC/DC's vocalist was every bit as outrageous and unpredictable as its pint-sized guitar god. With a boozy strut, and a wicked glint in his eye that bespoke propensities for violence when provoked and sex whenever (and wherever), Bon Scott commanded the stage in ways that only a few frontmen — Jagger, Plant and (just maybe) David Lee Roth — could match.

Scott is often spoken of as being “AC/DC's first singer,” but that's not the case. The band's first vocalist was Dave Evans, a much more glam-inspired singer. Of course, the band during Evans' tenure behind the microphone was a much more glam-inspired bunch, as the video clip for the first single “Can I Sit Next To You Girl” below shows (and dig Angus and Malcolm Young trading licks in a way you don't normally see in this band). But Angus Young and Evans didn't get along, and the band was looking for a new, rawer singer.

They didn't have to look far. At the time, Bon Scott was working for the band as its driver. Before that, though, Scott had been well-known in Australia as one of two lead vocalists in the bubblegum pop band the Valentines, and as the singer of the hippy-dippy outfit Fraternity (dig that recorder). Several accounts point to Scott being much more interested in singing hard rock in the bars after the gigs than he was in performing either of these types of music.

That, of course, made AC/DC the perfect fit for him. And if you thought Angus Young's schoolboy outfit was outrageous, check out Bon's schoolGIRL outfit in this early television appearance, in which the band plays its cover of “Baby Please Don't Go.”

Scott's first two albums with AC/DC, “High Voltage” and, especially “TNT” still form a big chunk of the modern AC/DC setlist. Tunes like “The Jack” allowed Bon to show off his talent for clever wordplay and his ability to quickly learn new instruments (he was also a fairly adept guitarist and an excellent drummer) came in handy on the bagpipe-enhanced “It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N Roll).”

Next up was 1976's “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” which emphasized boogie over blazing guitar work on tracks like “There's Gonna Be Some Rockin'.” The title track is a classic, but for me, the heart of the album is the slower, surprisingly introspective “Ride On,” which hints at the loneliness of life on the road.

“Let There Be Rock,” the band's 1977 classic album is, as Angus Young put it, “a fucking great guitar album.” It's the other Scott album that has taken up big chunks of the band's setlist to the present day, with songs like the title track and Scott's ode to a large Tasmanian woman he had the pleasure of knowing, “Whole Lotta Rosie.” With such blazing fretwork, it's small wonder that Angus' guitar amp once caught fire during the recording sessions.

The next year came “Powerage,” which is arguably the most underrated album of the Scott era, despite having fans that included Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. It's a surprisingly dark affair, with “What's Next to the Moon?” having not-so-veiled threats of murder against the object of the singer's affections. “Riff Raff” and “Sin City” both have gotten a fair amount of play on stage, and, more recently, the band resurrected “Rock 'n' Roll Damnation” on the “Live at the Circus Krone” DVD. The chief criticism of the album was that it seemed to be too much a continuation of “Let There Be Rock.” I say, what's wrong with that?

After 1978's live “If You Want Blood, You've Got It” came the high point, in terms of sales and recognition, of Scott's tenure with the band, 1979's “Highway to Hell.” The title track wasn't — as some would later claim — an ode to Satan, but rather a colorful description of life on the road, which had its origins in a quote from Angus Young to a reporter. “Shot Down in Flames” and “Girls Got Rhythm” have stayed in the AC/DC setlist, off and on, as has “Highway to Hell.”

And then, in 1980, it ended all too soon. Scott died of acute alcohol poisoning in a friend's car 30 years ago this week.

The band soldiered on with Brian Johnson taking his place on “Back In Black,” some of which had been written before Scott's passing. There exist demo recordings of a couple tracks (most notably “Have a Drink on Me”) with Scott on drums, but, to my knowledge, they've never been released even in bootleg form.

The band has paid tribute to Scott several times over the years, releasing the “'74 Jailbreak” EP in 1984 with some previously Australian-only releases, and the expansive “Bonfire” box set in 1997, which included studio rarities, the soundtrack to the “Let There Be Rock” concert film and more.

Last year, the band put out “Backtracks,” a box set that essentially cleared the decks of all the rest of the B-sides and Aussie-only tracks that had built up over the years. It's well worth buying for tracks like “Stick Around” and the itchy ode to body lice, “Crabsody In Blue.” But be prepared to shiver a little when Scott eerily foretells his own death in “Carry Me Home.”

So, let's raise our glass to one of rock's greatest. “Let There Be Rock,” shouted Bon Scott, and there was. And it was much more than good.

AC/DC — "Can I Sit Next To You Girl"
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Sunday Old School: 25 Years of Deliverance

In the mid-1980s, Jimmy P. Brown had a question: Could the style then being perfected by thrashers like Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer be made to do the Lord's work? Brown provided a definitive answer of “yes,” forming Deliverance.

Sure, Christian metal had been done before — most notably by the yellow-and-black-bedecked Stryper, but never quite as heavy. Deliverance's sound was righteously angry, as were the song titles and lyrics. Thanks in part to a video that got MTV play, the band was able to cross over and gain fans in the mainstream metal crowd.

The band's great influence on the Christian metal scene will be celebrated this year with “Temporary Insanity: A Salute To Deliverance,” a two-disc tribute album featuring contributions from members of bands including The Crucified, Vengeance Rising and Darkness Falls. The album will also include a new Deliverance recording.

Deliverance first made its appearance on a compilation album called “California Metal.” Their debut album didn't make many waves, but their second, 1990's “Weapons Of Our Warfare” did — even spawning a video that appeared on MTV.

The band's third album, “What A Joke,” was less successful, and the band then underwent a musical overhaul, becoming less of a thrash band and moving more toward a progressive direction. The result was the album “Stay Of Execution.” The band kept the progressive bent on their next disc, “Learn.”

Deliverance released “River Disturbance” in 1994 and “Camelot In Smithereens” in 1995.

“Assimilation” came out in 2001, followed by another long break. Brown, the group's only constant member, reformed Deliverance in 2006, with the result being 2007's “As Above – So Below.”

This year, the band will release “The Annals Of Subterfuge” through Retroactive Records.

Weapons Of Our Warfare
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Sunday Old School: Destruction

When thinking about the history of thrash metal, one usually always thinks of the Bay Area in the United States first, followed quickly by the thrash scene on the East Coast. But there was another scene in the 1980s that was just as important, namely the one in Germany. Much like America has it's "Big Four" of thrash (Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer), Germany has it's "Three Kings" who consist of Sodom, Kreator and our featured band of the day, Destruction. Destruction were formed in the town of Weil am Rhein under the name of Knight Of Demon in 1982 but (wisely) decided to change their name to Destruction two years later. During this year they were able to release an EP entitled, "Sentance Of Death" through Steamhammer Records before releasing their debut full length album, "Infernal Overkill" in 1985. The band was originally a trio but added a second guitarist in the form of Harry Wilkens, with whom they recorded another two albums, a live record and an EP before lead singer and bass player Marcel "Schmier" Schirmer was asked to leave the band due to creative differences. He would respond by forming the band Headhunter.

After splitting with Schmier, the band found themselves going through a terrible period commercially, having lost their record label support in favour of grunge music, the band had to self- finance and self-release their new albums. Eventually, Schmier was asked back into the band and the reunited team of Schmier and guitarist Mike Hilfiger, along with drummer Sven Vormann, were able to secure a deal with Germany's Nuclear Blast Records, releasing several highly acclaimed studio albums ever since such as "All Hell Breaks Loose," "The Antichrist" and most recently, "D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N." Destruction still tour the world today, appearing at many of the big European festivals and heading out on headlining tours of their own. More...

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